Pivoting in the Pandemic: Touchstone Theatre celebrates student work with an online festival

Written by on May 21, 2021

Pivoting in the Pandemic: Touchstone Theatre celebrates student work with an online festival

By Hayden Mitman

May 21, 2021

As part of our occasional series on how local businesses are overcoming the challenges presented by the past year, consider this local theatre that found, even in the pandemic, the show must go on. 

Listen to the story.

Bethlehem’s Touchstone Theatre has reinvented its annual Young Playwrights Festival by going online with works including “The Dramatic Tale of a Singer Who Couldn’t Sing,” written by a local elementary school student. 

Lisa Jordan, managing director of the theatre, says they knew early in the pandemic that they needed to make a change.  

“Last year, everybody was realizing, what was happening was going to be our lives for a bit. And, there was a lot of uncertainty and worry and  fear. So, the Young Playwrights Festival being online gave us the chance to bring people together on multiple levels,” Jordan says.   

Through this festival, the theatre works with Bethlehem school students from grade 3  on up to create one act plays.

 Mary Wright, the theater’s education director, says the move online also presented an unexpected opportunity.

“We were able to reach out to past Touchstone apprentices who had moved far away, so we had actors from California in plays. We had someone from France in a play. That was fun. It was a little gift to all of us,” Wright says.  

The theatre chose to produce the work of  nine students, out of more than 140 submissions. The plays were about everything from auditions to pizza making and even included one about an attack from a radioactive octopus.

Last year’s festival was such a success, they say, it drew viewers from all over the world. 

The theatre group hopes this weekend’s event will do the same. 

Touchstone Theatre will present the 16th annual Young Playwrights’ Festival. It will include both live and recorded performances. Audiences are invited to view the free live stream beginning at 8:30 p.m. May 22 at Touchstone.org.

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